Thursday, April 26, 2018

I Love This Clay Project

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new clay projects.  And in 18 years of teaching (HOW did THAT happen????) I've never done fifth grade the same way twice.  
With my fifth graders this year, I decided to look at some modern ceramic artists and found Christy Keeney and Liz Scrine--two working British artists.  Go ahead and look them up, their work is ah-maze-ing! I also had some designer silkscreens from Mayco that I really wanted to try out (I like the bugs best, but my students liked them all).
Our first step was to design and build a slab person, here some of them are after firing (apparently I was too excited about the next step to take any photos of that).  So here's some photos of them after we silkscreen'ed on them:

It's very obvious that she was inspired by Christy Keeney's work.

This student has done NOTHING all year,
ceramics may be 'his thing.'

I do love this one!

This is a special needs friend, and he did the BEST on his silkscreen.

The process for this is pretty simple, you draw around the image and cut it out (larger than your outline).  Then USE TAPE ('cause that wet-it-and-it-will-stick that it says on the directions totally does not work) to attach the silkscreen (smooth side down) onto the bisque fired clay.  Next, mix a small amount of glaze (we used Stroke & Coat) with the silkscreen medium powder (it's about $4/container and I forgot I had some and ordered two more, so it's obvious that I now have enough for the next 150 years) and use your finger to smoosh it through the silkscreen.  I did this at one table with small groups of students as they were working on another project, then put them immediately in the kiln for a second firing.  When done correctly, the detail is awesome!
So, after they were all fired again, we used tempera block paint to paint them:

Here they are all done, dry and ready to go home:

Hard to see in this photo, but the spider is amazing!

There is a silkscreen'ed ladybug under the rainbow.

I just love this one, even though she missed silkscreening.

Gotta have some rainbow hair!

It's Hillary Clinton.
Because of course it is.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Silkscreen 101

This is my second year silkscreening shirts with my sixth graders, and I think I've worked out some of the bugs from last year (though I still have a way to go).  Disclaimer: this is what I do and it works for me, but it's not what I learned in college, it's more jerry-rigging things I have around the house.  With that in mind, let's get started!
Step one, get some screens:

The larger one was purchased from Nasco,
the smaller ones I'm borrowing from a friend.
I had to clean mine out from last year.  The kits of emulsion that you purchase come with screen clean-out, but of course I didn't remember that so I just used bleach and a scrub brush.  And yes, my bathtub is baby blue.

Step two, coat the screens:

Just follow the directions on the bottle, mixing the stuff from
the small bottle into the large bottle.
Have a magnifying glass handy to read the directions if you're over 40 like me.

Pour a healthy amount.
I do all of this step in my basement bathroom,
and I do it with the light on.

Spread it around evenly.
This is where I had my biggest problems when I began--
in college we use a scoop coater, and I don't have one.

Then I found out the squeegee works nearly as well.
(Though honestly it's not as even, or it's harder to make even)

Step three, shoot the screens:

I do this step on top of my washing machine with a simple light from Home Depot clipped to a shelf.  I use glass out of a thrift store frame, and a black blanket from my couch.  Make sure you lay it on the screen backwards or it will print backwards. Through trial and error, I found 45 minutes works the best for me.  At the end of the 45 minutes, I quickly pull off the glass and transparency image (more about that in a minute) and run the screen upstairs to wash out with the sprayer at my kitchen sink.  I couldn't take a photo of that because time is of the essence here.
Now, for the transparency image part: I have my students turn in their ideas to me electronically (my district uses Schoology) and then students vote.  Once an image or quote is chosen, I have learned to make adjustments (all those fonts they like can be quite distracting!).  I then have them printed twice on transparency, and it is VITAL that you tape them together exactly right.

See this?  I had to re-shoot the screen because that corner of text wasn't perfect.
Once the screens are washed out (with the non-exposed emulsion--ie what was under the black sections of the transparencies dropped out) and they've dried you are ready to print.
For the printing part you only need a squeegee and screen printing ink for fabric.  I allow my students to bring their shirts in any time, and after they've printed them, they dry in my room.  Then I send them home for heat setting with this document.
I'm sure I've left out some need-to-know things, so please comment if something is unclear.
Keep on bein' awesome, art teacher friends!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Eight A Day

It seems like I haven't been a' bloggin' forever.  And I haven't written anything in months.  We've been doing so many amazing new projects, friends (if you're in Missouri, you should TOTALLY COME to my presentation at Spring Conference)! It's just that I teach eight classes a day.  Eight different grade levels (that's K-6 + adaptive, three different sections of adaptive). About 500 students, every three days. It's a whirlwind, and the art show was Tuesday night (first year doing Artome') and I'm just trying so hard to focus on the important things.  
It's like this poster, but only more school-related:

Image result for pick any two today's modern woman

So I haven't forgotten you, blog readers, I'm just working.  Lots.
But I promise to make a better effort, and get back to blogging :-)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mini Sketchbooks Just For Fun

Before Christmas I used leftover paper from our calendar project to make mini sketchbooks for all of my second graders (around 80 or so).

When I cut the calendars to [roughly] 6 x 6, the remaining copy paper is in HUGE stacks.  This year I just used my long-arm stapler and made these quick little books for them to have something to draw in the last day before break, rather than start a new project.  It worked well UNTIL I got a wicked sinus infection and missed the Tuesday before break.  So my second graders that I had today got to draw in them (and take them home) after doing a warm colored painting today (that will be used as a background for some cool-colored buildings later).  They were thrilled:

They had so many ideas! "Can we write and draw?" "Can I make this my life story?"

After painting, they really only had 5-7 minutes (which stretched to 10-12 when I totally lost track of time), but it was time well spent!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Is It Procrastination? Or Perfectionism?

Teachers in my district reported back today for meetings and work time.  I spent my time changing out hallway displays (which needed to happen) and avoiding doing the things I need to do for our artist of the month program (choosing/hanging/writing the letters--all still needs to happen before I can leave today).  I took down first grade landscapes and put up first grade owls:

We did our owls similarly to previous years, except our backgrounds were warm-colored-crayon leaf rubbings with black paint over.

I had decided to do a cute little Leader In Me connection on this board because it's the one that every child who rides a bus sees (all 700-800 of them).  The spacing of the letters drove me NUTS, so switched some around, leaving a gap, so I had to go find another owl from another class to fill the void:

Much better! Now, what can I find to avoid doing the artist of the month stuff that needs to be done in the next 45 minutes??? Wait! That one on the far right needs to be adjusted. . . can someone else do artist of the month for me this month????

Monday, December 11, 2017

Where Have I Been All This Time?

I keep deciding to blog, what to blog . . . but I'm so busy.  I've had more to prepare for my classes lately, more knitting/crocheting to do for my yarn bombing, I'm trying to finish a quilt I started 16 years ago (because it seems so important to finish it right now, this second).
So what are my students up to?  Sixth grade finished some cityscapes and are working on a new project inspired by this artist, fifth grade is starting some printmaking  Andy Warhol inspired soup cans, fourth grade is working on Thomas Hart Benton style murals, third grade is working on radial symmetry,

second grade is busy making the calendars I tend to do every year, first grade just started these amazing chalk-and-paint insects, 

(we still have details to add) and kindergarten is trying to finish up some Wild Things.
I'm frantically trying to keep a healthy work/home balance (who does that well? Unicorns? Because everyone I know is always trying to do it better).
So I guess all this to say, I'm still around.  Still teaching, just not blogging as much as I probably should.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

About That Yarn Bombing. . .

A few weeks ago I wrote about being inspired to do a yarn bombing after seeing what happened at fall conference.  I kind of wonder what I was thinking, because I thought I'd be able to go home and get it all done.  Um, knitting enough to cover a tree takes a while???? And crochet may be faster if you know how to crochet (which I did not). I also didn't have that much actual yarn at home, so it's a work in progress:

The upper branch zig-zag piece was a donation from someone's relative.
A chain-smoking relative, so it never made it out of the box,
PERFECT for outdoor art.

Note the crochet circles--they all look like the cups of bras,
because I was in the learning-to-crochet-from-YouTube stage,
many mistakes are/were made.

Obviously, it's still a work in progress!

I've learned so much.  For example, there needs to be some cohesiveness in color or form or something to make it look intentional, and not like you're just some loon knitting a tree.  The loon label may still be up for debate (about me) with my neighbors.  Also, to keep momentum going, you must have something to knit or crochet with you at all times:

In my purse at all times for long lines and church.
(I tell myself I listen better while my hands are busy)
The plan (for now) is to add more crochet'd circles and another knitted scarf-like piece or two around the trunk.  It really does add some cheer to my street on gray days (and we've had a lot lately!). I'm hoping for lots of knitting time this winter [read: snow days].  And because I blogged about it to the entire internet, maybe I'll feel some pressure to get it all covered.  Either way, look for an update in a few weeks, months, years.
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